Sep 05,2017 – JORDAN TIMES – Hasan Abu Nimah
There is no question that the war in Syria is approaching its end. The certain outcome is a military victory for the Bashar Assad regime that stood its ground, with support from regional and international allies, against all the forces that battled his army for more than six years.
This was an unexpected outcome for many. The general, long-standing, consensus was that this war would never be settled militarily on any side’s favour.
The opposition forces were relentless in their determination to fight to the finish, which was clearly defined as Assad’s removal as a condition for any political settlement of the Syrian crisis.
An undeclared, unholy alliance of world and regional powers, terrorist organisations, mercenaries, extremist groups, religious zealots and outright criminals had descended on the Syrian scene, supported massively with arms and money.
The Arab League, quite imprudently, and in flagrant violation of the rule of its own charter, did not wait long before taking the side of the aggressor against a founding Arab member state, suspending Syria’s membership and banning its participation in its meetings.
Nevertheless, this measure had no effect on the Syrian situation, as it came at a time when the league’s gradual decline in power had reached unprecedented lows.
The United Nations did not follow in the Arab League’s footsteps.
The Arab League and the UN jointly appointed envoys to search for compromises and common ground upon which a political settlement could be forged. And there were precarious gatherings in Geneva, Moscow and Astana.
The resignation of former special UN envoy tasked with seeking a peaceful resolution for the conflict in Syria, veteran Algerian diplomat and long time UN operator Lakhdar Brahimi, who had taken over after the resignation of his predecessor, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, was followed by the appointment of Staffan de Mistura by the UN Security Council to try to succeed where his predecessors had failed.
He has been on the job since July 2014 and has indeed tried very hard, but alas, also failed to achieve the intended target.
He may have introduced some minor temporary relief dressings, but nothing that would leave any significant visible marks.
Compromises were impossible to reach simply due to the fact that the parties to the conflict in Syria were far too numerous, with conflicting goals and equally numerous agendas.
The many forces fighting against the Syrian government managed to squeeze the regime forces hard at times, making massive military gains all over the country and controlling huge swathes of Syrian territory. This led them to believe that they were close to victory and, therefore, compromise for them was not much of a temptation.
They were also acting upon instructions from their external backers who did not invest in such a risky venture to end up granting the regime a handsome deal, even if within a political settlement.
For his part, Assad believed all long that he was fighting a legitimate war in defence of his country and his people against terrorists and foreign groups acting on behalf of hostile powers targeting his country.
At the beginning of the uprising, in 2011, when demonstrations began in the southern part of Syria and other locations, with people demanding political reform and power sharing, not many believed the Syrian narrative of foreign conspiracy disguised as a national uprising.
However, in hindsight, it seems that Assad was somehow right. Yes, there were genuine national moves at the beginning, but it did not last long before the political vultures, the opportunists, the terrorist organisations, the enemies of reform and the traditional enemies of the Assad regime set sail towards Syria to invest in a war that, as any wise observer would have expected, turned catastrophic.
Those who attribute the Assad regime’s military gains to the substantial support from Russia, Iran and Hizbollah, are right. However, no amount of foreign backing would have helped rescue the deteriorating situation had it not been for the steadfastness of the leadership, administration, institutions and Syrian army, which fought solidly for close to seven years albeit with very modest means and equipment.
Other factors helped, too. The atrocities and the outrageous indiscriminate violence in both Syria and Iraq over the last four years due to the expansion of Daesh, and the control this vicious terrorist organisation has held over large areas in both countries, awakened the world to the fact that the war in Syria was straying off course and entering dangerous zones.
This was further aggravated when Daesh started to organise vicious and deadly terrorist attacks in many European and other world locations.
At this point, many powers came to realise the urgent need to rearrange their priorities in both Iraq and Syria, placing the war on terror as a top priority, even if that meant putting off previous demands for regime change in Syria.
This turned out to be another decisive factor in Assad’s favour.
To witness the end of the war in Syria is a great regional relief, despite the terrible and massive destruction and tragic loss of life.
Peace in Syria will help the region restore some level of normalcy. It will help Jordan resume trade and hopefully normal friendly relations, as well as enable the refugees to slowly return, which will also help Jordan overcome some of the major resulting economic challenges.
Let us hope the good news from Syria will spill over and that similar good news will come out from other Arab areas of conflict.